Is this the start of Dieselgate 2.0?
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know all about Dieselgate. Volkswagen essentially killed the diesel engine by cheating emissions testing. It got caught, some executives were sent to jail, and the repercussions cost billions of dollars.
It now seems we need to prepare for Dieselgate 2.0 as VW's exhaust gas recirculation software is under investigation. At least this time, it's all out in the open, and VW doesn't deny the existence of said software.
The software parameters are the source of contestation, however. Athanasios Rantos, an advisor to the court of justice of the European Union, stated that the software is illegal. This statement follows a new case against VW, filed by an Austrian consumer group.
The main issue with the software is the parameters it uses to alter the emissions. Before we get to that, a quick explanation of what it does. This particular piece of software is in charge of a valve that recirculates exhaust gases to lower emissions. It's a perfectly fine piece of technology, and it does what it says on the box.
Unfortunately, the parameters in which it operates are incredibly narrow, essentially rendering it moot. The recirculation process only occurs between 59 to 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit and at altitudes less than 3,280 feet. Anything outside of these parameters, and the software will skip the recirculating process, which means more nitrogen oxide emissions.
Volkswagen no longer sells diesel models in the USA, nor does any manufacturer it's affiliated with. But to put it in perspective, the average temperature across the USA is 54.35 degrees Fahrenheit, which means the software would likely turn off the recirculation process here as well.
In Austria, the average temperature is even lower than 59 degrees for most of the year. Most drivers also live 3,280 feet above sea level.
The findings published by Athanasios Rantos don't make VW guilty of anything, however. At this point, it's merely evidence that could be used in a legal trial. Whatever the Austrian court decides could have an impact on the motoring industry in general, including Mercedes-Benz.
Mercedes faced a similar trial in the German Federal Court of Justice, but the ruling was in Merc's favor. The court did not consider the software cheating because it operates under the same conditions during the emissions test cycle and the real world.
The original Dieselgate was about a device detecting the emissions testing cycle and setting the car up to pass. It was found on both 2.0 TDI and 3.0 TDI vehicles like the Jetta, Audi Q7, and the Porsche Cayenne. There's a clear difference between the two.
It hardly matters, however. Diesel is on the way out in Europe. In August 2021, the sales of EV and PHEV vehicles surpassed diesel sales for the first time. EVs and PHEVs now boast a 21 percent market share, while diesel cars are sitting at 20 percent. We can see a similar trend in the USA, where VW recently announced that it doubled EV sales in just one year.